The Essentials of Office Ergonomics
The main aim of office ergonomics is to enable every worker to perform their tasks efficiently while preserving their health. This has become somewhat more challenging recently with so many people choosing to work from their mobile devices due to their portability and convenience. Add the rapid pace of technological development and you get ergonomists working frantically to keep up.
Investing in contemporary office ergonomics has a certain pay off, as you will have healthier and more efficient workers who are devoted to your company’s progress. With this in mind, here are several ways you can improve ergonomics in the workplace.
At its core, ergonomics is about aligning the workspace with the human body and not the other way around. When done properly, ergonomics reduces pain, increases productivity and decreases workers’ compensation claims.
However, the solution isn’t just buying everyone an adjustable office chair. Unfortunately ergonomics cannot be reduced to just one piece of equipment. It’s essentially a holistic approach to the way people work, and because we come in all shapes and sizes, we all work differently.
Contrary to common belief, ergonomics isn’t necessarily expensive. Sometimes it just takes furniture rearrangement so everything is within easy reach. And some ergonomic equipment today, such as ergonomic mice and keyboards, aren’t as costly as they used to be, especially when compared to potential injury claims.
Typical ergonomic injuries
Ergonomic injuries typically take a long time to heal and can be ultimately more harmful than sudden injuries. Contrary to a sprained ankle resulting from a fall, an ergonomic injury is a result of a fundamental change in the structure of joints or muscles. As these injuries happen slowly and gradually, even the employee may be unaware of it. They might experience fatigue, stiffness and pain initially, but as microscopic tears and inflammation continue to build up, the condition worsens.
Most workers just accept the condition as something that comes with the territory, but it doesn’t have to be so. Conditions such as repetitive strain injuries, carpal tunnel, back and neck pain can be prevented by replacing traditional equipment with ergonomic equipment.
Some employees are at a greater risk of ergonomic injuries than others, and the obvious signs that they are under physical and psychological stress are awkward body postures, wrist deviations, frequent reaching, repeated vibration in arms, hands and body. The more risk factors there are for the employee, the bigger the chances they will develop a health issue.
To find the best solution, it’s necessary to do an ergonomic audit of your offices – collect all the data regarding job tasks, movement patterns, layout and problem areas so you can make the necessary modifications.
Setting up the workstation
To help your company run at peak efficiency, you might need to consult an expert ergonomist in order to set up an ergonomic workstation. As each employee has different needs and modifications, it’ll be necessary to focus on different areas such as head positions, hand and arm positions, and seated positions. All adjustments must enable the worker to sit or stand comfortably without any strain.
Asthe people behind this master’s degree in product and interior design explain, designing a space requires a deeper study and understanding of the complexity of the world and the ability to adapt products to suit it. Creating a space that is both comfortable and functional requires the study of furniture ergonomics, adjustability, use of sustainable materials and lighting. Too much light can be overwhelming to the brain, and too little can cause eye strain that workers often try to compensate by adopting awkward postures. Ergonomists can help find the sweet spot.
Selecting the right equipment
Once you’ve got the analysis of your office environment and its specific needs, it is important to pick the right equipment. Ergonomic business solutions typically include ergonomic keyboards that adjust to hand size, arm length and body type, mice with options for both right and left-handed workers, wrist rests, adjustable standing desks and ergonomic chairs.
Involving the staff
People generally oppose change, even if it’s for their own good. To reap the benefits of workplace ergonomics, both the management and staff need to understand how important it is for everyone’s health. Most of your workers will have gotten used to their current work habits and fail to notice the connection between movement patterns and health. With ergonomic innovations, they’ll have to get out of their comfort zones and learn new skills.
Educate and encourage teams to make the necessary change by explaining that ergonomics is about the individual and how such changes can improve their long-term health through ergonomics awareness training.
Once you improve your office ergonomics, the overall mood, health and productivity will change in unexpected ways. Make sure you continue the communication with your employees to identify potential issues and find room for further improvement. By implementing the principles of contemporary office ergonomics, you will jumpstart a positive wave of increased productivity and improved health.
Author’s bio: Lillian Connors is an interior design expert and a senior content strategist at Spread the Word Solutions. She is always doing her best to help her clients find their place in the ever so competitive business arena, insisting on long-term sustainability rather than on some questionable get-rich-fast scheme. She’s also deeply into green practices, cherishing the notion that sustainable housing and gardening will not only make us far less dependent on others regarding the dwellings we inhabit and what we eat, but also contribute to our planet being a better place to live on.